By Debbie le Quesne

Personalised care: Financial limitations DO inflect pain

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Nestling in the pages of The Guardian online I recently found a Jeremy Hughes piece which every person who holds the purse strings on care should read. Hughes opens with the statement that we increasingly expect personalised service.

Spending a weekend in a care home “provided me with a valuable reminder of what providing truly individual care for people with dementia should mean,” he writes, adding . . .

“During my stay, I witnessed a care assistant spend over an hour helping a resident to get nourishment through puréed food when she could neither chew nor swallow.

“There is an art to caring for someone who can no longer communicate verbally and reassuring someone who is anxious and confused.

“One-to-one care was evident day and night. As I watched, I was struck by the fact that you can earn more in a supermarket than a care home. Recently, care home companies have been saying that paying the chancellor’s national living wage could put them out of business. Whether or not this is correct, it’s surely wrong that as a society we cannot afford £9 an hour to look after someone’s wife, husband, mother or father.

“No long-term fix for social care can succeed without addressing how undervalued the people who provide it are.”

I believe there are those who naturally make good carers, but this should never be an excuse not to reward them, or worse, undervalue them.

As Hughes says in his piece it’s time for us, as a society, to accept that the financial limitations we put on the funding of care inflict real pain.

With a real insight, Hughes adds that carers “have been left to pick up the pieces of our broken social care system.”

Indeed it is broken, along with the myriad of promises that were made to fix it. Only the dedication and goodwill of underpaid staff, and indeed some of their employers, allows the system to continue.

But for how long?

What price can we put on personalised care? Recently I read a piece about Starbucks’ £35 million dollar training programme to make their frontline workers “brand evangelists”. Training for managers includes a “theatre experience” and a ‘leadership lab.” Over the top? I think so for a cup of posh coffee, but it highlights just how much this company values personalised service.

Puts the care sector in the shade, doesn’t it! Sadly the care sector cannot compete. Theatre-type interviews by some companies that motivate newcomers with the promise of proper wages and great conditions do exist in the sector. But so much is just ‘spin’. The real scenario is generally one of a perpetual struggle to make business viable enough to pay already depleted wages.


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